Project Loon’s Solar-Powered WiFi Is Coming To California!

A couple of month’s ago, EarthTechling reported on a new project from Google’s experimental division. Called Project Loon, the initiative sought to transmit WiFi signals in hard to reach areas via a network of solar-powered, high-altitude balloons. At the time, the project was being tested over New Zealand’s South Island, which, while a nice treat for the Kiwi shepherds, left the rest of us drooling for a turn.

That time, it appears, has come. Google recently announced that Project Loon is coming to California’s Central Valley. Those who’d like to be among the first group of American beta testers are asked to apply via a short survey on the project’s Google+ page.

Since returning from New Zealand, the Project Loon team has been hard at work conducting a series of research flights in California’s Central Valley. The research flights have allowed the team to build on what it learned overseas, exploring new approaches for improving the technology, including solar panel orientation and batteries, envelope design, and radio configuration. And now, they’re ready for your help.

“Project Loon is looking for folks in the area who are willing to have a Loon Internet antenna installed on their house or small business building to help test the strength of the Loon Internet connection,” explains the G+ post.

Not surprisingly, city dwellers are just as eager to get their hands on this newfangled type of WiFi as those in the country. In recent tests over Fresno, however, Project Loon techs discovered that signal-noise from the city had a negative effect on the balloons’ ability to transmit Internet.

If you’d like to apply to be an early Project Loon tester, use the survey on this G+ page. Selected applicants will be contacted directly.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

    • itzzitzz

      Let’s test this in South Africa – the country with the slowest, most unreliable and expensive internet in the world.